02 February 2018

Korea is my concubine.

Perfection. I spent my childhood building it. I built it shiny and covetable. I built it in my marriage and in my parenting skills … until I realized that when it encompassed others, I couldn’t control them.  My perfection began to erode my relationships.

From day one, I expected perfection from others because I had attained it through adversity as an adoptee. I wasn’t exactly calculated in my demands … it was just my normal.

As I began to learn more about myself, that ceramic, happy adoptee fa├žade cracked and all my demons came spilling forth. After my first trip back to Seoul, I regressed. I slept in a deep depression. I came out the other side a very different person. The perfectionist died. But she still expected those around her to perform.

Often, I hear, “Why does everything come back to adoption? Do we have to talk about ‘adoption’ again?”

Honestly, I wish I could live a fairytale life in which I was born of a mother and father, and we lived out our lives as such, without questions about my past culture, the shame of not knowing my native language and the peace of just being me. But I was not dealt such a fate.

Loving me is very hard. I expect a lot. After 25 years, a couple is not the same two young hearts they once were. In my case, I am not the person my husband married, not even close. I am cheating on him, and Korea is my concubine. When she is absent, I still imagine her lying next to me, feeding me the fruits of her landscape. My thoughts of her interrupt my life and fill me with loneliness and sorrow.

A couple of months ago, my husband excitedly planned a trip to Thailand (A country that is top on my bucket list.) with a Seoul weekend prelude. Initially, I was thrilled at the prospect of spending time alone with him in my home country and in Thailand. We haven’t had time to ourselves like that since having our first child in 2000.

When I land on South Korean soil, I find my feet firmly planted. I can feel the roots, once pulled, trying to re-root in the cracks of Korean pavement. My weedy self took hold this time and couldn’t be uprooted after my first full day back in Seoul. The thought of leaving without a thorough examination of my search … well … I just couldn’t leave. I broke down sobbing our second night. I begged to stay with my concubine. She was demanding that I not leave, not just yet.

I cannot deny my guilt of having neglected her for more than 40 years. She gave me life, and I was ripped from her grasp. I am trying to make up for our lost time … at the expense of my marriage. 

I carelessly changed my travel plans and took root at KoRoot, the adoptee guesthouse. This move was selfish. It was. I could only think of her … my concubine. She flooded my mind.

My decision hurt my husband. He has taken a lot from me in the last 25 years. He is my true love, but I abused his love. He wanted time with me, and I chose Korea.

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